Construction on a new veterinary hospital and animal commissary at Lowry Park Zoo will begin soon following approval of a $6.5 million "pass-through" loan by Tampa City Council.
The 12,000-square-foot hospital is designed by Elements Architects for both aesthetics and functionality. An additional 2,000-square-foot animal commissary for food preparation for some 1,000 animals also is planned for the initial construction phase. When complete, there will be four buildings: the hospital, commissary, a quarantine and animal holding center and a 4,000-square-foot conservation center for research and study.
The hospital and commissary will be the first to open later this year.
"It really is meeting a very specific need that the Zoo has with its expanding collection (of animals)," says Bret Azzarelli, VP of Elements Architects
. "The aesthetics need to fit into the surroundings. Some aspects are seen from the zoo. These were made to match the Florida boardwalk area. The remainder of the building is very utilitarian and functional."
A fund-raising campaign called "New Horizons" was launched in 2010. Approximately $7 million is already pledged; another $3 million is needed to fully fund the hospital.
The city, which owns the Zoo, is using its bonding authority to secure the tax-free loan, which is backed by the pledges from donors. The Zoo
is operated as a nonprofit by the Lowry Park Zoological Society.
“Over the last 26 years, the Zoo has more than doubled in size, but our animal care facilities have not,” says Dick Stohler, co-chair of the New Horizons Campaign and a director of the Lowry Park Zoo Endowment Foundation. “The new animal care complex will provide the medical facilities necessary to meet our expanding needs and support future growth.”
The loan from SunTrust Bank will provide interim financing while Zoo officials continue to raise funds.
The hospital will be built just off the boardwalk by the Mason M. and Charles P. Lykes Florida Wildlife Center, and next to the existing animal clinic, which is about 27 years old. The new facility will have state-of-the-art medical equipment with areas for surgery, pharmacy, radiology and veterinarian offices.
In addition, zoo officials say they plan to use about $2 million for upgrades to the Manatee and Aquatic Center which houses the only nonprofit manatee hospital in the world. Since 1991 the center has treated about 330 wild manatees, or about 6 percent of the state's wildlife count of manatees.
Writer: Kathy Steele
Sources: Bret Azzarelli, Elements Architects; Dick Stohler, Lowry Park Zoo Endowment Foundation